Shadows of the Damned Preview
When you bring together a team that includes professionals who contributed to Resident Evil, Vanquish, No More Heroes, Killer7, and Silent Hill, you’ve created a superstar cast. And with head honchos Suda51 and Shinji Mikami at the helm, one might assume they can do no wrong. Well, we like to be optimistic when it comes to promising new titles so for now, we’ll stick with that assumption. And when it comes to their latest project, Shadows of the Damned, we zero in on the appealing atmosphere and the interesting emphasis on an explosive love triangle. The developer has already said they’re going for a very particular style: it’s most reminiscent of classic horror films, and they combine that “Evil Dead” influence with more modern freak-outs from the likes of Tarantino. “Grindhouse” was mentioned, for example. Such inspirations are bound to have an impact.
If you’ve been following the released details, you already know we’ll be playing as Garcia Hotspur, a dude who lost his girlfriend and, ala Dante, intends to travel to hell and retrieve her. He apparently has no qualms about making the trip, nor is he all that concerned with the ravaging denizens of the dark; he’s about as cocky as the other Dante (the latter from video game lore, of course) and he calls himself a “slayer of demons.” But his quest won’t be an easy one, especially because Fleming, the oddly-named boss of Hell, seems to like Garcia’s pretty girl. He kinda wants to keep Patricia around…and so, conflict. Lots of it. The good news is that Garcia will have all sorts of weaponry to assist him; this is provided by a friend named Johnson. Johnson isn’t really a person; he’s a former demon who can take many different forms. In one area, he’ll shed more light on the darkness and when encounters are inevitable, he becomes one of three magical weapons: pistol, machine gun, or shotgun.
The gameplay will consist of both third-person shooter elements and some QTEs, which have become standard fare in the action category these days. Also, we hear light and darkness will have a direct impact on how we play; for instance, if darkness envelops enemies, they will become immune to Garcia’s attacks. They can also drain his health. Therefore, it sounds like the first step will be to “fight in the light,” so-to-speak, and find a way to keep the advancing darkness at bay. Believe it or not, this process will actually require quite a bit of puzzle solving, which is a surprise and could give a straightforward game a definite mental twist. At first, it’s just a matter of shooting the sources of the darkness – which we can find, evidently – but solutions to stopping the advancing murk become more complex as time goes on. While the action buffs may not like this, others may welcome this change of pace.
We also like the idea of firing concentrated light beams at foes, which then lets you execute an instant kill. However, it’ll be the rest of the game’s design and storyline that will cause Shadows to sink or swim: in footage we’ve seen thus far, there’s a curvaceous female villain, and plenty of nasty-looking monsters that may require the player to utilize different combat strategies. Provided the pacing remains firm and the control is solid and reliable, it seems difficult to believe that Grasshopper Manufacture’s new game won’t be at least a little entertaining. For our part, our expectations are higher than “a little entertaining;” with that group of developers and creators, we’re anticipating a must-play game. If the style and environment resonates with you (perhaps being a fan of the corny ol’ 80s horror movies), you gotta try it.
Shadows of the Damned tests our mettle on June 7. Yes, we’re aware inFamous 2 is set to release on the same day.
3/14/2011 Ben Dutka